What is a Stroke?
Stroke is one of the most feared consequences of the aging process. In the United States alone, roughly 730,000 people suffer from strokes each year. Of those, approximately 150,000 die at the time of their stroke or during the subsequent hospitalization, making stroke the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. Three-quarters of those who suffer from strokes do survive, however. For many older men and women, the fear of suffering with permanent disability after a stroke is as profound as the fear of stroke itself.
A stroke occurs when a part of the brain is deprived of blood, a result of either a ruptured blood vessel or, more commonly, a blockage in a vessel caused by a blood clot. Cut off from its blood supply, that part of the brain is damaged or dies. Strokes can be large or small, and any part of the brain may be affected. When a portion of the brain is damaged as the consequence of a stroke, the mental or physical functions controlled by that particular area may be lost.
This article will discuss life after a debilitating stroke. It is important to note that a stroke may be treated or even reversed if a person receives emergent medical care after the onset of stroke symptoms. For more on the signs and symptoms of stroke, as well as the available treatments, see the articles in Healthology's focus area entitled 'Stroke'.